Musical pairing – Country Strong by Gwyneth Paltrow
I would have to say that one of the perks of being a food blogger is having the opportunity to be surrounded by so many fabulous home-cooks as well as meeting some mighty fine chefs – and let me just tell you, these people bring their A-game to the blogging world! Last fall I met Chef Virginia Willis who is just as gracious as a Southerner can be. I had been reading her blog for a while and I subscribed to her newsletter so when this Country Ham Cheddar Biscuit recipe showed up in my email, I knew we’d be making them.
Let’s just say that biscuits I’ve made in the past could have been classified as weapons of mass destruction – dry, crumbly and no height to them whatsoever. And there were times when all the butter, jam and/or gravy couldn’t save them.
But in my quest to conquer my biscuit-making skills, I’ve learned that making the perfect biscuit is as much about technique as it is having a terrific recipe and quality ingredients. Handling the dough as little as possible and making sure your ingredients are cold is key. The dough should actually feel somewhat soft and tender in your hands and rolling or patting the dough into 3/4 or 1-inch thickness will create a nice fluffy height.
These biscuits are everything a great biscuit should be – golden brown on the outside and buttery, tender and full of delicious flavor on the inside with bits of chopped country ham and shredded cheddar cheese in every bite; I added about 1 Tablespoon of chopped chives because I love the mild onion flavor as well as the color they add.
The Professor and I made these to go with Virginia’s ‘Oeufs en Cocotte’ which is just a fancy way of saying, ‘Egg Casserole’ or in our case, ‘Eggs in Mini Cast Iron Skillets’! I added the photo above just to tease you . . . I’ll share that recipe in a future post. Now seriously . . . tell me you don’t want biscuits and eggs for breakfast . . .
MINI COUNTRY HAM CHEDDAR BISCUITS
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for the board and rolling out
1/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1.25 ounces)
1/3 cup finely diced country ham (1.75 ounces)
1/2 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
2 large eggs, beaten
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour with the baking powder, salt, and pepper. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until it’s the size of large peas. Stir in the cheese and ham and make a well in the center. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Pour the liquid into the well and quickly stir until the dough is moistened. (Alternatively, it may also be made in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Once the butter has been added and is the size of peas, pulse in the cheese and ham. Then, pour in the buttermilk mixture and pulse to combine. The dough will pull from the sides of the bowl.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it holds together. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 3/4 inch thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 1 1/2 -inch round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. If the biscuits are baked close together the sides will be moist. If the biscuits are baked further apart, the sides will be crisp.
Gently press the remaining scraps together and cut out more biscuits. (These are more worked and will be a little tougher and likely not as pretty, but they still taste good!) Transfer the biscuits to a baking sheet and using a pasty brush, lightly brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown and risen. Serve hot.